Skip to main content

Topic: Is flac better than a retail cd? (Read 4772 times) previous topic - next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Is flac better than a retail cd?
Okay so I am relatively new to the digital audio world and I am a bit curious about flac. Is it better quality than a standard retail cd? Also, would a retail cd to flac transcode be a bad one? Would there be any loss of quality? Thanks guys!

  • saratoga
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #1
Okay so I am relatively new to the digital audio world and I am a bit curious about flac. Is it better quality than a standard retail cd?


This question doesn't really make sense.  FLAC is just an exact copy of something.  If its of a retail CD, then its the same thing as that CD.  If its from some other source, it may be better or worse depending on that source. 

Would there be any loss of quality?


FLAC is a lossless format, so there is no loss. 

FWIW, the wikipedia page may be a better place to start if you're not sure what something is.

Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #2
Okay thanks, that solved my question 100%. Yeah I tried the wiki page but couldn't really find any thing about retail cd's.

  • TomasPin
  • [*][*][*]
Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #3
Okay so I am relatively new to the digital audio world and I am a bit curious about flac. Is it better quality than a standard retail cd?

Funny you say that, as the opposite is way more commonly (and erroneously) stated. To sum up, a properly ripped retail cd stored as FLAC is a perfect copy. Period.

Quote
Also, would a retail cd to flac transcode be a bad one? Would there be any loss of quality? Thanks guys!

No (well, CDs can be badly ripped, but that has not to do with FLAC as a format), and no. You can read up on ripping here.

Edit: I realise now saratoga adressed your questions earlier and I kinda repeated him... Silly me.
  • Last Edit: 07 August, 2013, 12:19:44 AM by TomasPin
A man and his music: http://tubular.net/

  • Jayhawk94
  • [*]
Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #4
Zombification, sorry.

Commercial CD to FLAC = perfect copy of the CD (following the EAC recommendations etc). Got it, no further discussion needed for that dead horse.

Would buying the FLACs of the same album from one of the several online sources (recommendations welcome) provide better audio quality or dynamic range than the ripped FLACs? (please assume same source material/master tapes) Put a different way, is the CD medium a limiting factor in listening to an otherwise superbly engineered album?

1. Master source -> FLAC (purchased from a reliable online FLAC retailer)
2. Master source -> CD -> FLAC

1 or 2?

  • KozmoNaut
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #5
Would buying the FLACs of the same album from one of the several online sources (recommendations welcome) provide better audio quality or dynamic range than the ripped FLACs? (please assume same source material/master tapes) Put a different way, is the CD medium a limiting factor in listening to an otherwise superbly engineered album?

No, not at all.

44.1kHz 16bit PCM audio is exactly the same, no matter if it's a CD, a WAV file or a FLAC file.

Some FLAC files are available at higher sample rates and greater bit depth, but the difference is not audible. If there is an audible difference, it is due to different masters being used.

  • Wombat
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #6
And like always the reminder that a flac download related to the many labels of the Universal Media Group often is not a lossless version of the CD but has a permanent watermark embedded that may be audible.
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #7
FLAC will store an exact copy of whatever is encoded into it. A retail CD will contain 16bit 44.1kHz audio, so your FLAC rip of that will contain the same.

However if the FLAC file has been encoded from a higher quality source such as the 24bit 96kHz masters (if they were recorded as such) then technically, yes your FLAC file is higher quality than if you bought the retail CD. Could you tell the difference between 24/96 and 16/44.1? Probably not. Most 'musical' audio data fits within 16 bits anyway, so at 24 bits you are just going to have 8 extra bits of empty space at the front of the data. Its all about dynamic range, how much space do you need and how many samples per second are required to fit the two extremes of the audio spectrum into digital format and accurately distinguish between every fine detail.
  • Last Edit: 27 October, 2017, 06:31:26 AM by tomstephens89

  • Porcus
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #8
If the FLAC has been encoded from "something other than the CD", then it could very well be from a different mastering. As replies #5 and #6 point out.

Most 'musical' audio data fits within 16 bits anyway, so at 24 bits you are just going to have 8 extra bits of empty space at the front of the data.
Not really - it is even worse: Most 24-bit signals are indistinguishable by ear from 16-bits, but usually bits 17 through 24 are not "empty" (zero) - they are "more or less random". 
So effectively, they spend up to 700 bit/s extra on inaudible noise, whereas fitting a CDDA signal in 24-bit FLAC does not take up more space.

  • Jayhawk94
  • [*]
Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #9
My takeaway then is to continue buying CDs rather than a flac encoded album from HDTracks or similar knowing that I’ll be unable to hear any differences regardless of environment/equipment in my day-to-day.
Plus, I’ll be able to eliminate clipping with mp3gain:
1. rip to flac and archive, then for iPhone and SD cards in the car
2. transcode to mp3 with MediaMonkey at -v0 and then
3. album level to 89dB with mp3gain

Thanks all!
  • Last Edit: 27 October, 2017, 12:16:10 PM by Jayhawk94

  • eahm
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #10
My takeaway then is to continue buying CDs rather than a flac encoded album from HDTracks or similar knowing that I’ll be unable to hear any differences regardless of environment/equipment in my day-to-day.
This first sentence makes me think you didn't read nor understand any of the other posts.

Why is is better to buy the CD again?

Are you implying that you may able to hear difference in a quiet environment?

How in 2017 people still don't know what lossless means? How is PNG any different? People got it right away for photos.

  • Jayhawk94
  • [*]
Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #11
1. I understood the prior posts to effectively say that there’s no audible difference between a retail flac and a retail CD that’s been well ripped/encoded in any environment (noisy car or quiet studio) on any equipment (average headphones or four figure home stereo).
2. The retail CD won’t have encoded watermarks.
3. As stated in my previous post I understand that I’ll be *unable* to hear a difference.
4. Not sure what you mean by your fourth paragraph. I understand quite well what lossless means. I could transcode infinitely between flac and wav without loss of information/quality. Not sure how PNG factors into this?

  • bennetng
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #12
I'd add...
5. maybe CDs are cheaper, especially used ones?
6. some people prefer physical stuff

  • eahm
  • [*][*][*][*][*]
Re: Is flac better than a retail cd?
Reply #13
@Jayhawk94 got it, wasn't sure I understood your sentence correctly.

The lossless part wasn't for you but for the thread, another one of the hundreds open already, "FLAC vs WAV", "compressed lossless vs uncompressed lossless" etc. If there is one thing I got on day 1 is how lossless is lossless.